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Citicoline vs Alpha GPC: Which Is Better?

by Nader Qudimat
Updated July 22, 2023

In the world of nootropics, two names often come up in conversation: Citicoline and Alpha-GPC.

Both are renowned for their potential cognitive-enhancing properties, but what sets them apart?

Let's dive into the details and find out.

Citicoline vs. Alpha GPC: Quick Comparison

While both Citicoline and Alpha-GPC are effective at increasing choline levels in the brain and supporting cognitive function, they do so in slightly different ways.

Citicoline provides an additional benefit in the form of uridine, while Alpha-GPC is more readily absorbed and may increase choline levels more quickly.

Understanding Citicoline

Citicoline, or CDP-Choline, is a naturally occurring compound in the body.

It plays a crucial role in forming a vital brain phospholipid called phosphatidylcholine.

This compound is integral to brain function, and its supplementation has been linked to improved cognitive function.

How Citicoline Works In The Brain

Citicoline increases several important neurotransmitters, including acetylcholine, dopamine, and noradrenaline.

These neurotransmitters play a key role in memory formation, concentration, and mood regulation.

Research shows that citicoline supplementation can enhance memory and protect the brain from damage.

When consumed as a supplement, citicoline is broken down into two components: choline and cytidine.

Choline is a vital nutrient used by the body to produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in memory, learning, and muscle control.

Acetylcholine is essential for communication between neurons in the brain, and higher levels of acetylcholine are associated with improved memory and cognitive function.

Cytidine, on the other hand, is converted into uridine in the body.

Uridine is crucial in synthesizing neuronal membranes and has been associated with improved cognitive function and synaptic plasticity.

Synaptic plasticity is the ability of synapses to strengthen or weaken over time, which is essential for learning and memory.

This way, citicoline supports brain health and function by providing the necessary components for producing acetylcholine and neuronal membranes, enhancing memory, learning, and overall cognitive function.

Understanding Alpha-GPC

Alpha-GPC, short for L-Alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine, is a choline-containing supplement in our brain.

It's often used for its potential cognitive-enhancing effects and as a pre-workout supplement due to its ability to promote human growth hormone production.

Recommended reading: Best Nootropic Pre-Workouts

How Alpha-GPC Works In The Brain

Alpha-GPC, short for L-Alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine, is a choline-containing supplement used by the body to produce acetylcholine, much like citicoline.

Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter involved in various brain functions including memory and muscle control.

Studies suggest that Alpha-GPC can support brain health by improving memory and thinking skills.

When consumed, Alpha-GPC is quickly absorbed and crosses the blood-brain barrier, where it is used to produce acetylcholine.

As mentioned earlier, acetylcholine is a crucial neurotransmitter that plays a key role in memory, learning, and muscle control.

In addition to its role in producing acetylcholine, Alpha-GPC may also support brain health by promoting the production of cell membrane phospholipids and supporting the structure and function of brain cells.

Differences And Similarities Between Citicoline And Alpha-GPC

Citicoline and Alpha-GPC are choline-containing supplements used by the body to produce acetylcholine, a crucial neurotransmitter for brain function.

They both support memory, learning, and overall cognitive function, and have been associated with neuroprotective properties.

However, there are some key differences between the two. While both supplements provide choline, they do so in different ways.

Citicoline is broken down into choline and cytidine, then converted into uridine.

This additional step provides an extra benefit, as uridine is crucial for the synthesis of neuronal membranes.

On the other hand, Alpha-GPC provides choline directly, and is more readily absorbed and crosses the blood-brain barrier more easily than citicoline.

This means that it may increase levels of choline in the brain more quickly than citicoline.

Benefits Of Citicoline

Citicoline is well-regarded for its potential cognitive benefits.

It's been shown to improve memory and cognitive function, especially in older adults.

One study found that citicoline supplementation improved memory and learning in older adults with memory deficits.

In addition to its cognitive benefits, citicoline has also shown potential to support eye health.

Research indicates that citicoline may improve vision in individuals with glaucoma and amblyopia.

Cognitive Enhancement

Citicoline is widely recognized for its potential cognitive benefits.

It has been shown to improve memory and cognitive function, particularly in older adults.

For instance, one study discovered that citicoline supplementation improved memory and learning in older adults with memory deficits.

This cognitive enhancement can be attributed to citicoline's role in increasing the levels of several important neurotransmitters in the brain, including acetylcholine, dopamine, and noradrenaline.

These neurotransmitters play a key role in memory formation, concentration, and mood regulation.

Neuroprotection

Another significant benefit of citicoline is its neuroprotective properties.

It can help protect the brain from damage, including damage caused by stroke and other forms of brain injury.

Research shows that citicoline can reduce damage to the brain after a stroke and improve outcomes.

This neuroprotective effect is particularly important for individuals at risk of stroke or those recovering.

By reducing brain damage and promoting recovery, citicoline can significantly improve the quality of life for these individuals.

Eye Health

In addition to its cognitive benefits, citicoline has also shown potential to support eye health. 

Research indicates that citicoline may improve vision in individuals with glaucoma and amblyopia.

Citicoline achieves this by enhancing the function of the optic nerve, which is crucial for vision.

This makes citicoline a potentially beneficial supplement for individuals with eye conditions such as glaucoma and amblyopia, or for those looking to generally support their eye health.

Mood Regulation

Some research suggests that citicoline may have potential benefits for mood regulation.

It's been found to reduce symptoms of depression in older adults with cognitive impairment.

This mood-regulating effect of citicoline could be particularly beneficial for individuals with mood disorders or those experiencing mood-related symptoms as a result of cognitive impairment or other health conditions.

Benefits Of Alpha-GPC

Alpha-GPC is often used for its cognitive-enhancing properties.

Research suggests it can improve memory and cognitive function in healthy adults and those with cognitive decline.

Interestingly, Alpha-GPC also has potential benefits outside of brain health.

It's been shown to enhance power output in athletes, making it a popular supplement in the fitness community.

This study found that a single dose of Alpha-GPC increased lower body force production in weightlifters.

Cognitive Enhancement

Alpha-GPC is often used for its potential cognitive-enhancing properties.

Research suggests it can improve memory and cognitive function in healthy adults and those with cognitive decline.

Alpha-GPC achieves this by providing choline, which produces acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in various brain functions including memory and muscle control.

Alpha-GPC is a potentially beneficial supplement for individuals looking to enhance their cognitive function or combat cognitive decline.

Physical Performance

Interestingly, Alpha-GPC also has potential benefits outside of brain health.

It's been shown to enhance power output in athletes, making it a popular supplement in the fitness community.

This study found that a single dose of Alpha-GPC increased lower body force production in weightlifters.

This benefit of Alpha-GPC can be attributed to its role in promoting human growth hormone production.

Alpha-GPC can support muscle growth and repair by enhancing growth hormone production, making it a valuable supplement for athletes and those looking to enhance their physical performance.

Neuroprotection

Alpha-GPC has also been found to have neuroprotective properties.

Research shows that it can protect the brain from damage, including damage caused by stroke and other forms of brain injury.

This neuroprotective effect and its cognitive-enhancing properties make Alpha-GPC a potentially powerful supplement for supporting brain health and function.

Growth Hormone Production

Alpha-GPC also promotes human growth hormone production, which can benefit muscle growth and repair.

This makes it a popular supplement among athletes and those looking to enhance physical performance.

By promoting growth hormone production, Alpha-GPC can support muscle growth and repair, enhance physical performance, and potentially aid in recovery after exercise.

This makes it a valuable supplement for athletes and those engaged in regular physical activity.

Side Effects And Interactions Of Citicoline

Citicoline is generally well-tolerated with few side effects.

However, some individuals may experience digestive upset, headache, or insomnia.

As with any supplement, it's important to start with a low dose to assess tolerance.

Side Effects And Interactions Of Alpha-GPC

Alpha-GPC is also considered safe, but it can cause side effects in some people, including heartburn, headache, insomnia, skin rash, and confusion.

It's always recommended to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

Citicoline vs. Alpha-GPC vs. Choline Bitartrate: A Three-way Comparison

While Citicoline and Alpha-GPC are often compared, another form of choline, Choline Bitartrate, is also worth considering.

Choline Bitartrate is a more affordable source of choline.

Still, it doesn't cross the blood-brain barrier as effectively as Citicoline or Alpha-GPC, making it less effective for cognitive enhancement.

Dosage Recommendations For Citicoline And Alpha-GPC

When it comes to the dosage of Citicoline and Alpha-GPC, it's important to note that the optimal amount can vary depending on individual factors such as age, overall health, and specific health goals.

For Citicoline, a common dosage range in research studies is between 250-2,000 mg per day.

It's often suggested to start at the lower end of this range and adjust as needed based on tolerance and effects.

For Alpha-GPC, the typical dosage range is between 300-600 mg per day.

As with Citicoline, it's generally recommended to start with a lower dose and adjust as needed.

As always, it's important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

They can provide personalized advice based on your individual health needs and goals.

Synergy With Other Nootropics

Both Citicoline and Alpha-GPC can have a synergistic effect when combined with other nootropics.

For example, Huperzine A is a supplement that inhibits the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine in the brain.

By combining Citicoline or Alpha-GPC (which increase choline levels and subsequently acetylcholine production) with Huperzine A, you may be able to enhance and prolong the cognitive benefits.

Another popular combination is with racetams, a class of nootropic compounds that modulate acetylcholine receptors in the brain.

Increasing the availability of acetylcholine (via Citicoline or Alpha-GPC) and enhancing receptor activity (via racetams) can potentially offer a powerful boost to cognitive function.

Again, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen, especially when combining multiple products.

They can provide personalized advice based on your individual health needs and goals.

Who Can Benefit from Citicoline And Alpha-GPC?

Individuals looking to enhance cognitive function, improve memory, or support brain health may benefit from Citicoline or Alpha-GPC. Athletes and those in the fitness community may also find Alpha-GPC beneficial for its potential to enhance power output.

Who Should Avoid Citicoline And Alpha-GPC?

While generally safe, individuals with certain medical conditions or those taking specific medications should consult with a healthcare provider before starting Citicoline or Alpha-GPC. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also seek medical advice before starting these supplements.

How To Take Citicoline And Alpha-GPC

Citicoline and Alpha-GPC can be taken orally and are often found in capsule or powder form. The optimal dosage can vary depending on individual factors, so it's recommended to follow the manufacturer's instructions or consult a healthcare provider.

FAQ

What is the main difference between Citicoline and Alpha-GPC?

While both Citicoline and Alpha-GPC are choline-containing supplements that support brain health and cognitive function, the main difference lies in their mechanisms. Citicoline is broken down into choline and cytidine, which is then converted into uridine, which is beneficial for neuronal membrane synthesis. Alpha-GPC provides choline directly and is more readily absorbed.

Can I take Citicoline and Alpha-GPC together?

It's generally safe to take both supplements together, but it's always best to consult a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate dosage and avoid potential side effects.

Are there any side effects of taking Citicoline or Alpha-GPC?

Both Citicoline and Alpha-GPC are generally well-tolerated, but potential side effects may include digestive upset, headache, insomnia, and dizziness. Always start with a lower dose to assess tolerance.

Which one is better for cognitive enhancement, Citicoline or Alpha-GPC?

Both supplements have been shown to support cognitive function, but individual responses may vary. Some may find Citicoline more effective due to its additional uridine component, while others may prefer Alpha-GPC for its quick absorption.

Can Citicoline and Alpha-GPC improve athletic performance?

While the primary benefits of Citicoline and Alpha-GPC are related to brain health and cognitive function, some research suggests that they may also support physical performance by enhancing muscle strength and growth hormone production.

Are Citicoline and Alpha-GPC safe to take long term?

Citicoline and Alpha-GPC are generally considered safe for long-term use, but it's always best to consult a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

Can Citicoline and Alpha-GPC help with age-related cognitive decline?

Research suggests that both Citicoline and Alpha-GPC may support brain health and cognitive function in older adults, potentially slowing age-related cognitive decline.

How quickly can I expect to see results from taking Citicoline or Alpha-GPC?

The time frame for noticeable effects can vary depending on individual factors, but some may see improvements in cognitive function within a few weeks of consistent use.

Can Citicoline and Alpha-GPC help with mood regulation?

While the primary benefits of Citicoline and Alpha-GPC are related to cognitive function, some research suggests that they may also support mood regulation by influencing neurotransmitter production.

Are there any foods that are good sources of Citicoline or Alpha-GPC?

While both Citicoline and Alpha-GPC can be found in small amounts in various foods, supplementation is typically needed to achieve the doses shown to be beneficial in research. Foods rich in choline, a component of both supplements, include eggs, beef liver, and soybeans.

Bottom Line

In the comparison of Citicoline vs Alpha-GPC, both supplements have proven to be beneficial for cognitive function and brain health.

Citicoline provides an additional benefit through uridine production, which is crucial for neuronal membrane synthesis.

Alpha-GPC, on the other hand, is more readily absorbed and may increase choline levels in the brain more quickly.

Your choice between the two will depend on your individual needs and health goals, and it's always recommended to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

by Nader Qudimat

Forged by iron and cold steel, I'm Nader, a mid-30s natural bodybuilder. Once a 100lb skinny guy, I've transformed into a 200lb muscular athlete with over 15 years of lifting experience. Today, I leverage my transformation and extensive experience to guide countless individuals on their fitness journeys.

Click here to check out my 12 year transformation: Natural 12 Year Transformation

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